The last time I saw Slash on stage was at the fateful Monsters Of Rock festival back in 1988 when Guns ‘N’ Roses took the place by storm and two fans went down in the crowd and didn’t resurface, a sad day for rock.
So why the long absence? Well shortly after this, in my view, G‘N’R lost the plot, Velvet Revolver never really floated my boat and then Slash hooked up with Myles Kennedy.
I have never been a huge fan of Mr Kennedy, although at times his vocals have the ability to raise the hairs on the back of my neck, his performance on ‘Starlight’ does this every time I hear it.
I had avoided seeing Slash up to this point as I was unsure if I could make it through a full show, but as he has written some of my favourite rock riffs of all time I thought it was about time I put aside my fears and gave it a go.
Opening proceedings tonight were Aussie rockers Twenty Two Hundred who were in full flow by the time I entered the arena. Their brand of hard, melodic rock was entertaining enough but the sparse crowd appeared to be indifferent and polite applause was the best the guys could muster. I only caught the last couple of numbers so perhaps it’s unfair to make comment but judging by the crowd’s reaction I didn’t miss much.
Up next were California Breed who I was interested in seeing as the few tracks I had heard from the band I had enjoyed. The power trio are led by rock legend Glenn Hughes ably abetted by Andrew Watt on guitar and Joey Castillo on drums. California Breed are a power trio to be reckoned with, Castillo thundering away on drums, young guitarist Watt playing up a storm and Hughes prowling the stage, strafing the crowd with bass run after bass run.
The set was culled from the band’s debut album opening with ‘The Grey’ and rounding off with the first single ‘Midnight Oil’. All songs went down a storm with Hughes leading the proceedings like a pro.
There was a downside though and that was Glenn’s vocals which at times were so high pitched that only dogs could hear him. He has of course been singing in this manner for the last 40 odd years so it came as no surprise, but at times it didn’t make for easy listening. By the end of the set though the band did get a howl of appreciation and had the crowd barking for more…
That set the stage for the man who has written some of the most instantly recognisable guitar licks in rock. With his trademark top hat firmly in place Slash took to the stage and kicked off with ‘You’re A Lie’. Thankfully, as is often the case, the live Myles Kennedy experience is a much different prospect to the recorded version. His vocals were less shrill live and by the end of the first song I was glad that I had taken the plunge.
The first of many Guns ‘N’ Roses tracks was up next with ‘Nightrain’ which set the crowd alight. Slash was in great form pulling every rockstar move in the book and reeling off those riffs which everyone knows so well.
The set was a great mix of the old and the new taking in every part of Slash’s career. ‘You Could Be Mine’, ‘Back To Cali’ and ‘Ghost’ kept things on the boil before bass player Todd Kerns stepped up to the mic to take lead vocals on ‘Dr Alibi’ and ‘You’re Crazy’, which was one of the night’s highlights.
Another highlight was the duo of ‘Mr Brownstone’ followed by ‘Rocket Queen’ during which Slash played a 15 minute solo which was accompanied by a steady rhythm from the band, it took on an almost hypnotic quality enhanced by the excellent lighting. Things were then brought back up to date with ‘Bent To Fly’, a rocking ‘World On Fire’ and the soaring ‘Anastasia’ with a great acoustic intro by Slash.
The biggest roar of the night met the opening notes of ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’. When the security guys walk past singing along to the song you are acutely aware of the universal nature of the track, ‘Sweet Child…’ is one of those songs that everyone loves regardless of their taste in music, surely that is the mark of a classic song. The crowd sang along with gusto but Myles Kennedy did bail out of some of the high notes, according to my wife he murdered her favourite song!
‘Slither’ rounded off the main set but there was more to come. Slash appeared back onstage to introduce Andrew Watts and Glenn Hughes back for a rocking run through of the Deep Purple classic ‘Burn’. It was then back to the G ‘N’ R back catalogue to round off the night with ‘Paradise City’ much to everyone’s delight.
I am glad to say that tonight I was proved wrong and that my fears were unfounded. Slash and the guys played a blinder with Kennedy proving what a fine vocalist he is, with the exception of ‘Sweet Child…’ perhaps. The band will be playing the Download festival next year and it may have been 27 years since I first saw Slash on the hallowed Donington soil but after tonight’s show I can’t wait for June 2015!
Review by Dave Wilson
Photos by Rick Platfoot
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